12 Spa Retreats in Paradise for Any Budget
It's not hard to find bliss in sunshine and warm breezes, particularly when you've made a fast retreat from winter's frosty edge. But there are places in this world where stays take you beyond bliss. Here are a dozen properties—some splurges and some saves—in beautiful, balmy settings where you'll be stretched and massaged, cocooned and cared for guilt free. In these places, you see, nurturing health and well-being, quieting the spirit, and pampering yourself are entirely the point.
Spa Resorts in the Bahamas
One&Only Ocean Club
It's all about luxury, the ocean, and the garden at this colonial plantation-style oasis. Spa treatments draw from the Bahamas and Asia; some finish with Japanese or Balinese tea ceremonies. Yoga features prominently among the free fitness offerings, which also include Pilates, stretch, and kinesis classes; strength-training equipment; and aerobic machines. Treatments are á la carte, but the five-night Wellness in Paradise package for two is a decent value.
Best for: Couples looking for an exclusive getaway
Noteworthy treatment: One&Only Massage with two therapists employing five different stroke techniques
What's nearby: Nassau
Web site: www.oneandonlyresorts.com
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat
Meals are vegetarian; coffee, tobacco, and alcohol aren't allowed; and daily meditation/chanting sessions (the first at 6 am) and yoga classes are mandatory. Your time's your own from 10 am to 4 pm; relax on the beach, attend a workshop, or book a massage. Dorm rooms and private singles or doubles are basic; there are also places to pitch a tent. Everything's á la carte (though room rates include meals), but even in high season it would be hard to spend $1,000 for a week's stay.
Best for: Singles or couples who are serious yoga devotees
Noteworthy treatments: Ayurveda body treatments, Thai yoga massage
What's nearby: Nassau
Web site: www.sivanandabahamas.org
Spa Resorts in the Caribbean
Splurge (Sort of)
Body Holiday by LeSport
This destination spa rolls down verdant hills to a beach with swimmable waters. You get enough value for the money here that it straddles the line between "save" and "splurge." Daily rates include three meals and afternoon tea, all beverages, fitness classes—including plenty of yoga and Pilates—a 50-minute spa treatment, evening entertainment, and gratuities. The spa manager is a holistic doctor from India, and many treatments reflect that. Personalize your whole spa experience online before leaving home.
Best for: Active couples or singles (there's no supplement fee, and it's easy to make friends here)
Noteworthy treatment: Indian head massage (leaves you blissed out for days)
What's nearby: Castries, Rodney Bay, Pigeon Island National Park
Web site: www.thebodyholiday.com
Jackie's on the Reef
Caribbean zen is the theme at this reef-side haven. Everything is streamlined, from the treatment menu to the guest rooms to paying the bill (no credit cards). Activities are essentially yoga and meditation, with things like tai chi and storytelling sometimes part of the mix. Daily rates include breakfast, dinner, and a yoga class. Although spa treatments cost extra, most are well below $100. Even factoring in this and other expenses, a peak-season four-night stay remains under a grand.
Best for: Keep-it-simple couples and friends traveling in pairs (rates are per person and rooms are double occupancy)
Noteworthy treatment: Jackie's Signature Treatment combines foot reflexology with a head-to-toe herbal body scrub
What's nearby: Negril Beach and Lighthouse; Royal Palm Reserve
Web site: www.jackiesonthereef.com
Spa Resorts in Costa Rica
Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort
Imagine a post-yoga soak in mineral-rich hot springs amid tropical greenery below a volcano. You've just about imagined at least one morning or afternoon here. This intimate northern Costa Rica charmer, a member of the Luxury Hotels of the World, is at the foot of Arenal Volcano. Spa treatments draw from the most obvious elements: water and earth. There's even traditional temazcal, a pre-Hispanic steam ritual. Everything here is á la carte, but great package deals are offered regularly; look for online discounts, too.
Best for: Anyone (kids are welcome and those under 5 stay free)
Noteworthy treatment: Volcanic mud wrap
What's nearby: La Fortuna waterfalls; Arenal volcano, lake, and national park
Web site: www.tabacon.com
Pura Vida Wellness Retreat & Spa
At this mountain aerie yoga retreat, accommodations in the foliage range from suites to "tentalows" (luxury tents with carpeting and beds). You can have a different experience every day in one of five yoga halls. Five- and seven-night Mind-Body-Spirit programs includes meals (mostly vegetarian), accommodations, lots of yoga, massage, guided hikes, rain forest adventures, and plenty of fresh Costa Rican coffee. If you'd like a similar experience but on the beach, check out the Maya Tulum sister property in Mexico (see below).
Best for: Singles (most of the clientele despite having to pay more) and couples/pairs of friends. Families take note, though: children are welcome.
Noteworthy treatments: The Coffee Buff exfoliation; any of the Ayurveda offerings
What's nearby: Doka Coffee Estate; Irazú, Brava, and Poás volcanoes
Web site: www.puravidaspa.com
Spa Resorts in Florida
Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa
The emphasis at this urban beach-hotel spa is on anything health-wellness-fitness related. In addition to booking treatments and taking exercise classes, you can reserve sessions with nutritionists, exercise physiologists, life-management specialists, and others who can help you find a mind-body balance.
Best for: Anyone. Families with teens take note: though all ages are welcome at the hotel, there's spa access only for ages 14 and up wellness services geared to ages 14–17.
Noteworthy treatments: Ashiatsu (deep barefoot massage); Turkish hammam bath ritual.
What's nearby: South Beach Art Deco District, Lincoln Road Mall
Web site: www.canyonranchmiamibeach.com
Yoga and meditation feature prominently at this sleek modern Biscayne Bay property. The on-site Center for Integrated Living also has workshops and retreats that range from the unusual (firewalking or trapeze lessons, anyone?) to the standard (wellness and nutrition counseling). If you're all about the spa, look into the Spa Sleepover, which, for every night booked, includes a 30-minute treatment; early bird yoga class; and unlimited access to various hydrotherapy pools, the cedar sauna, and the steam room.
Best for: singles and couples.
Noteworthy treatments: Lazy Yoga (someone else does the work); Soul Temple (hammam, scrub, massage, clay polish, and soak).
What's nearby: South Beach Art Deco District, Lincoln Road Mall
Web site: www.standardhotels.com
Spa Resorts in Hawaii
Anara Spa at the Grand Hyatt
Here's where your mind, body, and soul might finally find lokahi (harmony) thanks to traditional Hawaiian treatments and therapies, proximity to nature, and yoga and wellness classes. Relax in a garden sanctuary, a private treatment bungalow, or a soaking pool. As the spa is just one part of a larger resort, everything is à la carte, but good-value spa packages called "journeys" range from a relatively budget-friendly 75 minutes to a break-the-bank six hours (ahhh).
Best for: Couples who like to spa together. Families win here, too. Although the spa is off-limits to those under 14, the resort has tons of stuff to keep the younger set occupied.
Noteworthy treatment: Lokahi Journey: ritual bath, lomi lomi and hot stone massage, volcanic-pumice foot scrub, coconut scalp massage, volcanic-clay facial, and mani/pedi.
What's nearby: Koloa (town), National Tropical Botanical Garden, Spouting Horn (blowhole)
Web site: www.kauai.hyatt.com
Kelea Surf Spa
This place all about surfing, yoga, and spa—and in that order. Its namesake was Hawaiian leader who relinquished power to follow her surfing bliss, so why can't you? Six-night packages include surf lessons (a week's worth goes a long way) and three meals daily, a massage, yoga classes, and airport transfers. Plan to visit February through April, the only months that Kelea is open as the surf best for beginners and intermediates. To try this at other times of the year (and save a little money) look into Kelea's Costa Rica sister property.
Best for: women (sorry, guys). It's more expensive if you're solo; come with a friend or be open to making friends with an assigned roommate.
Noteworthy treatment: After a day of surfing and stretching, what could be better than deep tissue or trigger-point massage?
What's nearby: Hale'iwa (town), North Shore Surf and Cultural Museum, Bonzai Pipeline (surf spot)
Web site: www.keleasurfspa.com
Spa Resorts in Mexico
Rancho La Puerta
North America's first and most beloved destination spa is in the desert just over the U.S. border. It's been promoting healthful living since 1940—well before it was a popular concept. During a (weeklong) stay you can take crafts and cooking courses (among others); go on morning hikes; and practice yoga, Pilates, meditation, and tai chi. Rates include lacto-ovo-vegeterian meals and all fitness classes; some courses and all spa visits cost extra. Packages here are really add-on "bundles" of spa treatments; but do look into them.
Best for: Singles, couples, and pairs of friends who are serious about a week of spa life. Be prepared to become a regular; many do.
Noteworthy treatment: As one of La Puerta's founders went on to establish the iconic Golden Door spa, why not try the Golden Door Facial?
What's nearby: San Diego.
Web site: www.rancholapuerta.com
Book the seven-day Mind-Body-Spirit package at this wellness retreat set between the jungle and the Caribbean sea on the Yucatán Peninsula. It's an excellent value that includes three daily meals, two daily yoga sessions, two spa visits, and two area tours. Visits to Maya ruins, snorkeling in cenotes or lagoons, and trips to rock-formation-filled caverns are among the adventures on offer. There's also a five-day package, and, if you'd like a similar experience but in the mountains, check out the Pura Vida sister property in Costa Rica (see above).
Best for: Couples/pairs of friends, as rates are per person double occupancy.
Noteworthy treatments: Any of the traditional Maya massage or exfoliation therapies.
What's nearby: Tulum (ruins, beach, and town), Cancun
Web site: www.mayatulum.com
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